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November 28, 2006

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"Old Vines" labels do not affect my buying decisions either, but this is because I know the term is often meaningless. Especially with Cabernet Sauvignon vines which are almost always replanted after 30 years or so because the yields plummet and the grape quality does not perceptively increase with additional age as it does with Zinfandel. I think that the term could mean something if properly regulated, but that is easier said than done. It goes back to the endless debate of regulation via the French AOC model versus the more laissez-faire New World inclinations. Both have their pros and cons, and compromise between these two models is difficult.

I guess if it is not regulated, they can put in on the bottle. But I think it is absurd since I believe it should refer to much older vines. To me, I think it hurts their credibility.

Putting "Old Vines" on the label should mean something, I think. Same as "turbo" should mean something on a car, or "diet" on a soda can. Let's decide what constitutes old (40 years or more?) and use that as a benchmark. Wine made from 40-50 year old vines tastes and feels different from wine made from 15 year old vines. We encourage producers to dumb themselves down by letting them put whatever they want on a wine label.

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